According to Forrester’s US 2018 Customer Experience (CX) Index based on 47 experience drivers, VA is one of two federal agencies that has improved their customer experience in the past year.
“VA took a mature, methodical approach to improving customer experience and it’s paid off, ”said Rick Parrish, Forrester’s principal analyst and keynote speaker at Forrester’s Transform Government CX From The Outside In conference.
More than 300 government leaders and customer experience professionals attended the event.
VA’s approach follows the President’s Management Agenda, which lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the federal government in key areas that will improve the ability of agencies to deliver mission outcomes, provide excellent service, and effectively steward taxpayer dollars on behalf of the American people.
The Veterans Experience Office’s (VEO) deputy Veteran experience officer Barbara Morton as well as chief of staff and U.S. Navy Veteran Lee Becker spoke on a panel to discuss how VA focuses on customer experience efforts that align closely with the VA mission and mandate.
Morton stated that, “VA had the Phoenix crisis in 2014 and that was our catalyst to embrace the customer experience. The cross-agency priority goal is a perfect initiative to help bring federal agencies along, placing the customer experience front and center as a priority.”
The cross-agency priority goal falls under the President’s Management Agenda and establishes concrete goals and trackable metrics to tackle critical government-wide challenges that cut across agencies, including customer experience. VA, through the Veterans Experience Office was recently designated as a lead partner agency for improving customer experiences with federal services.
While VA employees should be proud of their improvements in serving Veterans, Forrester’s Experience Index does indicate the federal government lags behind private sector customer experience, primarily in digital experiences, service and processes.
VA has been hard at work addressing these specific areas. Vets.gov, telehealth and new online services have been revamping the way Veterans can access VA. Human centered design training and principles are being used to ensure Veterans remain at the center of process improvements. VEO’s Patient Experience Program has trained 86 percent of all VA facilities in “Own the Moment,” a customer service skills workshop that is increasingly impacting VA’s culture.
VA has also taken a critical step in collecting real-time customer data from Veterans, families, caregivers and survivors to help with process improvement and service recovery to improve the customer experience.
“We had a lot of operational metrics, but we didn’t have experience metrics, so we had to build that capacity,” Becker told the conference.
Since late 2017, Veterans have provided VA with hundreds of thousands of comments. Majority are compliments or recommendations.
“This is helping with change management,” Becker said. “Seventy percent of Veterans are providing compliments. Recommendations are 65-to-70 percent positive in nature. Even concerns have positive sentiments included. That data is powerful.”